Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Food

Michelin-star chefs join green cuisine crusade

By PATRICK GALEY | Updated: 2019-02-22 08:03
Share - WeChat
Gregory Marchand is among the top chefs who gathered in Paris to showcase the green side of gastronomy. He prepared a seven-course tasting menu for the event. [Photo by JOHN PARRA/AFP]

In a city famed for foie gras and filet mignon, some of the world's top chefs gathered in Paris on Tuesday to showcase the green side of gastronomy, for the planet and our palettes.

It might mean swapping the cote-de-boeuf for cowpeas, the blanquette de veau for buckwheat flour, but a growing number of foodie insiders are joining climate scientists in calling for drastic measures to sustainably feed our ballooning population.

The food production industry is currently the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the biggest driver of biodiversity loss, with agriculture alone drinking up 70 percent of the world's fresh water supply.

With Earth set to be host to 10 billion people by the middle of the century, experts last month called for swingeing cuts to the amount of meat, fish and dairy consumed by richer nations in order to eliminate malnutrition and live within our means.

What is needed is clear, but experts say a retooling of the global food chain would require an unprecedented joint commitment from governments, agribusiness, farmers and consumers to switch from meat to a more planet-friendly, plant-based diet.

Future 50 Foods, a joint report released on Tuesday by food giant Knorr and the World Wildlife Fund, highlighted ingredients such as lentils and cabbage and the role they can play in feeding mankind in future.

To showcase their potential, Michelin-starred French chef Gregory Marchand was on hand with a seven-course tasting menu based on the list.

"As chefs and restaurateurs we ought to support sustainability and offer more plant-based menus, and that can be challenging," he told diners on the top floor of Paris' Pompidou Centre.

"When I received the list (of ingredients) it was a little bit like opening your fridge on a Sunday night and deciding what you are going to eat.

"It was a super interesting process. There were ingredients we already used in the kitchen and others that we had to go to specialist suppliers for," he says.

Despite a lack of meat products, Marchand and his team were able to rustle up salsify tagliatelle, spelt risotto, and bean ragu with a roast vegetable jus, all topped off by a sweetened green lentil puree and yam tart with soy milk panna cotta.

Meat is murder?

Diners in developed countries currently consume up to eight times their weekly recommended intake of red meat.

January's EAT-Lancet report, which warned of "catastrophic" damage to the planet due to overconsumption, mandated a measly 7 grams of red meat per day-a morsel equivalent in weight to a one-euro coin.

It also suggested limits on dairy produce and just two eggs per person per week.

"We absolutely have to reduce meat consumption and we need more sustainable meat production," says EAT's science director Fabrice DeClerck.

According to Sam Kass, a former White House chef during the Obama administration, getting chefs and diners to change their habits is one public health emergency that cannot be driven by legislation or top-down taxation.

"You get these big reports that talk about these dramatic changes that we have to make but ultimately this is going to come down to play-by-play, small policies," he says.

"We care too much about our food, and we understand who we are by what we eat. Ultimately, if people don't want it, the politicians are not going to implement the kind of policy change we need."

'People disconnected from food'

There are roughly 800 million malnourished people alive today, and close to two billion are overweight or obese.

With rampant overconsumption in some parts of the world and grinding hunger in others, food industry insiders insist the best place to start would be to re-educate the public over the true cost of feeding ourselves.

"There's a whole disconnection between people and animals and plants, so we need to think about our relationship with food," says Virgilio Martinez Velez, head chef at Central, a restaurant in Lima, Peru, frequently voted among the 10 best in the world.

"If people treat this diet as superficial, trendy stuff won't work," he says. "We have to create places where you can actually experience (where our food comes from)."

For Cameroonian chef, Christian Abegan, any future-proof diet would only ultimately work if it contained the key ingredient: deliciousness.

"I know there are challenges to change people's way of cooking and we need to show them the results," he says, a bowl of buckwheat and seaweed noodles in hand.


Most Popular
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349